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Marketing and Integrated Communications
Dave Carlson - December 16, 2008


A significant tenant of military strategy is to mass forces against an objective in a unified effort. Successful military commanders use all means available to them and ensure all involved understand the mission to achieve victory. Marketers can learn much from successful military campaigns that included well-coordinated and integrated communications at all levels. The fourth commandment of marketing encourages marketers to embrace and master integrated marketing communications. Marketers can employ various forms of non-traditional communication that exceed or enhance the reach of conventional advertising. Effective marketing communications is integrated into each market to produce strong message consistency and help build brand equity to create greater sales impact. Successful marketing includes well-coordinated and integrated communications at all levels of well-researched markets.

Integrated Communications for Marketing

A significant tenant of military strategy is to mass forces against an objective in a unified effort. Clausewitz, one of history’s most influential military strategists, taught that it is important to use all means available to achieve victory by “keeping one’s forces united in an overwhelming mass” (von Ghyczy, Bassford, & von Oetinger, 2001, p. 128). Successful military commanders ensure they use all means available to them and ensure all involved understand the mission to achieve victory. Marketers can learn much from successful military campaigns -- these campaigns included well-coordinated and integrated communications at all levels.

For more than 90 years, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) has represented the interests of the advertising business in the United States. The AAAA membership is responsible for about 80% of the total advertising volume placed by all U.S. advertising agencies each year (http://www2.aaaa.org/about/Pages/default.aspx). This august group defined integrated marketing communication (IMC) as “a concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan” (Kotler & Keller, 2009, p. 491). Keller, Apéria, and Georgson (2008) chiseled the “ten commandments of global branding” into print. Commandment number four ordered marketers to “embrace integrated marketing communications” (p. 750). Commandment number four included two questions:

  • Have you considered non-traditional forms of communication that go beyond conventional advertising?
  • Have you ensured that all communications are integrated in each market and are consistent with the brand’s desired positioning and heritage? (Keller, Apéria, & Georgson, 2008, p. 750)
Non-Traditional Marketing Communications

The fourth commandment of global branding urged marketers to consider various forms of non-traditional communication that exceed or enhance the reach of conventional advertising. Table 1 lists the seven basic forms of advertising. In addition to the communication methods listed in the table, a marketer must look outside the box for non-traditional forms.

Table 1. Seven Basic Advertising Forms.

Basic FormSubcategories

1. Announcement 1.1 Pure display
1.2 Product message
1.3 Corporate presentation, documentary
2. Association transfer 2.1 Lifestyle
2.2 Metaphor
2.3 Metonymy
2.4 Celebrity transfer
3. Lesson 3.1 Presenter
3.2 Testimonial/endorsement
3.3 Demonstration
3.4 Comparison
3.5 “How to”
4. Drama 4.1 Slice of life
4.2 Problem-solution
4.3 Vignettes
4.4 Theater
5. Entertainment 5.1 Humor
5.2 Play or act around product
6. Imagination 6.1 Cartoons
6.2 Film properties in action
6.3 Other, unrealistic acts
7. Special effects 7.1 Product in action, animated
7.2 Film, video techniques, artistic stimuli

(de Mooij, 2005, p. 193)

Attack! “is a brand communications agency, providing clients with a full range of strategy and execution services…specialize in guerrilla and non-traditional marketing techniques” (Attack!, 2008, ¶ 1). Attack! is a marketing and promotions company with offices at various locations in the United States. The company lists many examples of their promotions on the company Website (www.attackmarketing.net). Some of the company’s non-traditional marketing methods are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Examples of Non-Traditional Marketing Communications

CompanyExample of Non-Traditional Marketing Communication

Mini Cooper On a weekend in five major markets, professional drivers drove three different MINI models in tight, single-file formations through high-impact urban locations. The words “ZIG,” “ZAG,” and “ZUG” were displayed prominently on the brightly colored vehicles. This marketing event supported and integrated with a television campaign.

Dockers During peak traffic time in San Francisco, “quick-change” artists performed and officiated a contest challenging the public to see who of the four contestants could change into a new Dockers outfit the fastest. This program was supported by handing out flyers to drive traffic to the performance and the contest.

DirecTV Created customer care centers resembling beach cabanas to highlight DirecTV customer service as compared to their employees. Handing out promotional brochures and complimentary smoothies in branded cups supported the promotion.

Weston Hotel A Zen artist designed a Zen garden in San Francisco’s busy Union Square, directly across from the Weston Hotel. Attack! hauled in more than 25 tons of gravel and rock to create a 30-80 foot Zen Garden to focus on Weston’s peaceful and relaxing atmospheres. Friendly Westin staff members answered questions and distributed brochures.

Inclusive Marketing Communications

Effective marketing communications is integrated into each market. This may be a challenge for global organizations. Kotler and Keller (2009) suggested several reasons why IMC is difficult large global organizations. Some of the reasons are:

  • Employment of several different communications specialists who may not understand some of the communications channels and tools available for marketing.
  • Use of many ad agencies located in different countries, serving different divisions, resulting in uncoordinated communication.
  • Lack of a central marketing controller to ensure consistent marketing messages which will avoid company image diffusion within various markets. (p. 493)

While it is important to ensure that marketing communications is integrated into each market, the marketer must research the market and carefully analyze the message to be integrated. Market research is critical to determining the correct markets to consider. “Without market research, a business is guessing at the best place to take its products or services” (Cook, 2008, ¶ 2). Once the marketer has researched available markets and selected markets in which to participate, she must study market conditions and determine the most effective communication method to employ in that market. The chosen communication methods must be able to effectively convey the same message spirit in each market.

A common urban legend about marketing is the story of General Motors failing in Spanish-language countries when they introduced their Nova car in 1972. The myth said that the car failed, because no va, in Spanish, means no go. However, Wilton and Brunetti (2004) pointed out the fact that the single word nova means new. Additionally, there was a popular government-owned oil company that sold a brand of gasoline under the name Nova, which General Motors used to market the connection of the new car with gasoline. “General Motors executives were not a bunch of clueless gringos. They had done their market research…and concluded that Nova was an appropriate name for the market. And they were right” (Wilton & Brunetti, 2004, p. 190).

Cortese (2007) cautioned marketers about doing their homework to reduce the possibility of negative consequences of cultural insensitivity because of ignoring diversity within an ethnic group or marketing segment. “They also often misunderstand the nuances of ethnic sub-cultural interaction and communication. Such misunderstandings can lead to ethnic stereotyping by outsiders” (Cortese, 2007, p. 129). A classic example of a cultural blunder when trying to integrate marketing communications was the 1967 introduction of the infamous Frito Bandito to market Frito-Lay products. The character was an unfriendly and unshaven Hispanic outlaw who tricked Anglos into giving up their Fritos. “The Mexican American Anti-Defamation Committee protested the marketing campaign because of the clearly negative stereotype that it presented” (Cortese, 2007, p. 129).

Consistent Marketing Communications

Kotler and Keller (2009) insisted that “integrated marketing communications can produce stronger message consistency and help to build brand equity and create greater sales impact” (p. 493). The fourth marketing commandment taught that marketing communications must be “consistent with the brand’s desired positioning and heritage” (Keller, Apéria, & Georgson, 2008, p. 750). Creative Memories, the world’s most prestigious supplier of quality scrapbooks, presents a consistent marketing message in all of their communications to employees, consultants (independent marketing affiliates), and customers. “Creative Memories believes in and teaches the importance of preserving the past, enriching the present, and inspiring hope for the future” (Creative Memories, 2008, ¶ 1).

O2, a British cell phone company, has been successful, partially because the company presents a consistent message in its marketing communications. Susie Moore, UK Head of Brand and Marketing Communications at O2, summed up the company’s philosophy as “about putting the customer at the heart of everything” (Young & Aitken, 2007, p. 40). O2 attempts to include their consistent message in all marketing communications. Three specific techniques O2 used to focus their message to support their philosophy were:

  • Iconic imagery. The distinctive blue bubbles appeared on every piece of O2 communication, giving it instant stand-out in a crowded sector.
  • Individual. All advertising ran the same promotion, so communication didn’t compete. O2’s new image was dedicated to keeping communication simple and straightforward.
  • Integrated. O2 sought consistency across all channels, including advertising, in-store, and sponsorship. (Young & Aitken, 2007, p. 40)

Successful marketing includes well-coordinated and integrated communications at all levels. Markets are well-researched before being added to a company’s targeted markets list. Effective marketing communications is integrated into each market and is consistent with a brand’s desired positioning and heritage. In addition to the seven basic advertising forms (announcement, association transfer, lesson, drama, entertainment, imagination, and special effects), successful marketing effectively uses non-traditional communication that exceed or enhance the reach of conventional advertising.


Attack! (2008). Attack! marketing & promotions: Your agent on the inside. Retrieved December 13, 2008 from http://www.attackmarketing.net/index.php

Cook, M. (2008). Create a great international marketing plan. Retrieved December 15, 2008 from http://sbinfocanada.about.com/cs/marketing/a/exportmarkplan_2.htm

Cortese, A. J. P. (2007). Provacateur: Images of women and minorities in advertising (3rd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Creative Memories. (2008). Our mission. Retrieved December 13, 2008 from http://www.creativememories.com/MainMenu/Our-Company/Mission

de Mooij, M. K. (2005). Global marketing and advertising: Understanding cultural paradoxes. London: Sage.

Keller, K. L, Apéria, T, and Georgson, M. (2008). Strategic brand management: A European perspective. Essex, UK: Pearson Education.

Kotler, P. and Keller, K. L. (2009). Marketing management (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

von Ghyczy, T., Bassford, C., and von Oetinger, B. (2001). Clausewitz on strategy: Inspiration and insight from a master strategist. [Translated from German]. New York: John Whiley & Sons.

Wilton, D. and Brunetti, I. (2004). Word myths: Debunking linguistic urban legends. New York: Oxford University Press, USA.

Young, A. and Aitken, L. (2007). Profitable marketing communications: A guide to marketing return on investment. London: Kogan Page.


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